Each year, bringing a taste of Greece to New Orleans truly takes a village. Volunteers give a sneak peek of how to create the traditional Greek lasagna, pastitsio.
Dozens of volunteers are already preparing for the 2018 New Orleans Greek Festival, returning to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on the banks of Bayou St. John from May 25 to May 27. Festival organizers talk about some of the authentic, delicious Greek dishes festival-goers can look forward to this year and give a sneak peek of how they create their traditional Greek lasagna, pastitsio.
Each year, bringing a taste of Greece to New Orleans truly takes a village. Festival chair Ginny Zissis says a group of dedicated men and women of the Greek community, along with other volunteers, start preparing dishes by hand in January to pack the festival with those popular Greek dishes and pastries.
Zissis says a lot of work goes into cooking and baking for the festival. All of the food, pastries and even grocery items are prepared by hand and created in-house at the highest authentic quality.
“Two weeks before the actual festival, there are people working here every day — morning, noon and night. And it takes a lot of people to put it together,” Zissis said.
Pastitsio, one of the festival favorites, takes a three-day process. Volunteers prepare at least 150 pans of the dish. The Greek lasagna is the main entree of the Greek dinner festival-goers can purchase at the festival. The Greek dinner includes pastitsio, tiropita, kieftethes (Greek meatballs), Greek salad, dolma (stuffed grape leaves).
Pastitsio is a traditional Greek lasagna dish made with made with layers of macaroni blended with egg and cheese, a ground meat sauce with tomato, cinnamon, bay leaf and other seasonings. The pasta dish is then topped with a Béchamel sauce and grated cheese.
In the video, Zissis gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how much preparation goes into creating the festival favorite, pastitsio.
Other great dishes to eat at Greek Fest
Festival organizers also announced new vegan and vegetarian dishes, along with some other festival favorites people should make sure to look out for at the New Orleans Greek Festival.
New vegan dish
The new vegan dish will feature faro and lentil salad, Greek green beans cooked in a vegetable broth, Kalamata olives, skorthalia made with potato and garlic, and a side of pita bread.
New vegetarian plate
The new vegetarian plate will be loaded with tzatziki, chickpea salad, dolmathes, Kalamata olives and pita bread.
2018 featured dish
This year’s featured dish is grilled shrimp wrapped in pita with a dollop of Greek secret-sauce!
The Pastry Shoppe
The festival pastry shoppe includes more than 15 traditional homemade Greek pastries, including baklava, galaktobouriko, kourambiedes, cakes, and cookies.
“We have more than 15 different pastries that people come to get every year! Baklava, galatoboureko, assorted cakes and cookies,” festival co-chair Gail Psilos said. “Plus, for those who don’t want to wait, we always have our Pastry Express for pure convenience with a choice of assorted pastries or simply baklava!”
For more information about Greek Fest, visit the website.
Created in partnership with the New Orleans Greek Festival